Abu Tahsin al-Salhi: The “Sheikh of Snipers” Who Killed 384 ISIS Fighters

Photo Credit: Mohbora / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 (Clarity Increased)
Photo Credit: Mohbora / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 (Clarity Increased)

There was once an Iraqi soldier who was an inspiration to his comrades for his endurance and dedication to defending his country. He killed a remarkable number of enemy fighters – 384 confirmed – in his efforts to defend Iraq from ISIS. During his service, he was known as the “Sheikh of Snipers,” but to those at home, he was Abu Tahsin al-Salhi.

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi fought in five wars

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi sitting on a motorcycle
Abu Tahsin al-Salhi during the fight for the city of Mosul. (Photo Credit: HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI / AFP / Getty Images)

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi was a veteran in his 60s who had fought in a number of conflicts prior to his involvement in the Iraqi Civil War – better known as the 2013-17 War in Iraq. He first participated in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and was stationed in Golan Heights with the 5th Mountainous Brigade.

Following this, al-Salhi fought in the 1974-75 Second Kurdish-Iraqi War, the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War and the Iraq War. By the time ISIS militants pushed across the Iraq border, he was a well-seasoned soldier. Despite his age, he took up arms to defend his country against the invading enemy.

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi fought with the Popular Mobilization Units

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi speaking to someone off-camera
Abu Tahsin al-Salhi. (Photo Credit: HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI / AFP / Getty Images)

In 2015, Abu Tahsin al-Salhi volunteered with the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a state-sponsored umbrella organization that’s not technically a part of the Iraqi Army, but has a semi-official relationship with the military and the country’s security institutions. PMU is comprised of approximately 40 militia of 100,000 fighters that are predominantly Shia, but also Sunni, Christian and Yazidi fighters.

al-Salhi joined PMU and declared over 300 enemy kills during his service, earning him the nicknames “Hawk Eye” and the “Sheikh of Snipers.” He became a legend among the PMU, and was featured in a video showcasing his dedication to the cause and his skills with a rifle.

In the video, he described how he was once sent off for a month to take a break from fighting, but returned after only two weeks because of his love for defending his country. He said, “I’m relaxed, my mind is relaxed. Last time they gave me a month off and after 12 days I came back.”

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi lost his life in northwest Iraq

Mourners gathered together, with one holding an image of Abu Tahsin al-Salhi
Mourners hold a portrait of Abu Tahsin al-Salhi during his funeral on September 30, 2017 in the city of Basra. (Photo Credit: HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI / AFP / Getty Images)

Abu Tahsin al-Salhi was stationed in Jurf al-Sakhar (now Jurf al-Nasr), southwest of Baghdad, but had traveled nearly the entire breadth of the country fighting ISIS. He was last stationed near Hawija, a northwestern town that had been taken over by ISIS. In the PMU’s fight to retake the area in September 2017, al-Salhi was killed as he advanced with the militia.

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al-Salhi died at the age of 64 as a source of inspiration for Iraqi soldiers fighting against ISIS. With his impressive kill count, he will always be remembered for his success against the enemy.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!